Here’s something that came as a bit of a shock to me, but in retrospect is quite obvious; it gets darker earlier in Icod de los Vinos than it does in Puerto de la Cruz – there’s this big hill you see.
The relevance of this is that when we headed up to Icod to watch and photograph the ‘arrastre de las tablas’ on Sunday night, I completely misjudged it… in more ways than one.
I’d hoped to be in position with my camera just at that point when the sky turns a lovely lavender colour as dusk starts to fall. Well it might have been a lovely lavender colour in Puerto, in Icod it was already dark; the sun had already dipped behind the hill which shelters the town. Not only that, there was a seriously angry looking cloud sitting so low in the valley that I felt if I reached up I could grab a handful of storm black, cotton wool – not the best conditions for taking photographs.
To add to the worsening situation, as any resemblance to daylight decided to shut up shop for the day, Icod’s steep streets were devoid of mad lads on trays. It was a ghost town. Except it wasn’t; we could hear the combined moaning, groaning and half excited cheers of great numbers of people, we just couldn’t see them. Then a Canarian friend’s advice crept back into my consciousness:
“There won’t be anyone about for hours on Sunday night – Barcelona are playing Real Madrid.’
It was a Tenerife rookie’s mistake. Forget anything happening when these two play. Most people on the Island will support one, or other of them. The older folks usually opting for Franco’s team, the younger ones for the Catalonians.
As we walked deeper into Icod’s centre, we passed bar after bar packed to the gunwales with locals, some with their San Andrés trays under their arms.
Luckily there is a bar right beside the street where the best examples of ‘arrastre de las tablas’ takes place, so a few lads were splitting their time between squeezing into the bar to check the score and heading up the hill for a death defying ride into a wall of Dunlops.
As it happened, I’d brought my flash gun just in case the light wasn’t great (got that right). Unfortunately it was at that point that the batteries decided to die, so I was left with just the camera’s flash – not good enough for this sort of thing, but it would have to do.
I got in position beside the hill of tyres as the first of the tray riders came screaming down the hill… and the heavens opened. Great dollops of rain bombarded us and Andy and I, along with the handful of non-football loving locals, legged it for sanctuary underneath the nearest balcony.
Sometimes you know when the Gods are against you. This was one of those times. I ain’t no Greek hero like Perseus (shameless plug for Clash of the Titans article in Tenerife Magazine), so I know when I’m beat.
Andy and I pulled up our hoods (at least we had the foresight to realise that November and Icod could equal rain) and headed into the damp, dark night and back to Puerto where I’m sure everyone else was enjoying wine and chestnuts by the harbour…bah humbug.
Incidentally, Icod’s old cobbled streets behind the Drago tree are perfect for a film location. As the street lights cast a soft glow on the wet cobbles I could just see a Gestapo officer’s boots reflected in the puddles, or imagine a Harry Lyme type lighting up in one of the dark doorways.